Monday, 13 March 2017

John Wick: Chapter 2 (15)

There are times when, where action films are concerned, you really don't have to have seen what went before - you can just dive right in.

After all, you're only here for the fisty-fights and shooty-bangs and the chasey-chases aren't you? No need to worry about plot details.

No? You want more?

In that case, dear film goer, welcome to the world of John Wick.

Now, I'll be upfront here - I only watched the first one a week ago because a friend of mine wanted to go see Chapter 2.

Yes, he eats popcorn and mixes Coke with Fanta at the concession stand, but he's a friend and I like him. We're not here to judge.

Anyhoo, he wanted some more Wick so it seemed rude to say know. Especially when we seem to be pretty up to date with our film watching.

And he said it would be better to watch the first first, so we did.

And bloody good it turned out to be. Dark humour, serious amounts of style and pazazzaz, amazing fights scenes - it had the lot.

It also turned out to be a good thing because Chapter 2 literally starts where John Wick ends - the entire pre-credit sequence is basically the final scene we didn't get in the first film.

For those who, like me, were initially immune to the charms for the Wick phenomena, a quick recap - John is an assassin of some renown, who retired. Only his wife then died, some bad people did for his dog and took his car, and he decided to get revenge.

That's the first one done.

In Chapter 2, an old "friend" calls in a marker and then puts a price on his head.

From here on in, we get more of the same - only with a good third set in Rome.

And that is in no way a criticism.

Part of the charm of the first one was the pure panache that oozed from the screen. It was slick and seriously sexy.

Chapter 2 is no different.

Among the violence and deaths (so, so many deaths), this film has a clear visual style that is nothing short of stunning.

At times reminiscent of Welcome To The Punch or Only God Forgives, the use of neon lighting and mirrors is just beautiful.

And sure, the humour isn't as dark or as plentiful this time round - but we get pencils.

Ultimately, though, you go to see John Wick to see people die, to see them killed, to watch as they are pulverised in myriad ways.

And on that front, no one leaves disappointed.

You see, it's not how many are killed that matters here, it's just the how.

In a recent interview, Keanu Reaves talked about the training he goes into so he can take part in the fight scenes - allowing the camera up close, bringing the audience right into the action.

And boy does this work.

You feel the punches, you wince as the bullets reappear out the back of someone's noggin, you weep as the car loses a door.

It's a thrill ride par excellence.

Reeves himself, while not the most engaging of actors (and the main reason I stayed away from the films for so long) is at home here being a cold, calculating killing machine.

But, strangely, a human one.

He feels pain, he gets hurt, he limps, he runs out of bullets - these are arguably the most realistic ridiculous films you'll ever see.

And while Reeves is the name on the poster, there are so many other people who shine here it's almost an ensemble piece.

Ian McShane (Lovejoy in old money) is wonderful as the hotel manager, Lance Reddick is back radiating behind the desk, Peter Serafinowicz is the Sommelier from hell (or heaven, depending on what you want) and Ruby Rose is wonderfully chilling as Ares.

Oh and some fella called Laurence Fishburne is knocking about the place...

And the dog is bloody great too.

Wick is a man you should hate, but you love - he's desperate, lonely, friendly and a massive burden to the insurance industry. And Reeves plays him to perfection.

But the story and Chad Stahelski's direction bring the whole thing to life and give you a joyous, uplifting tale of violence and wholesale slaughter.

You shouldn't have this much fun watching people die, but you can't help walking out of the cinema with a spring in your step.

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